You open the metal door to the corner store, the ringing of a bell greeting you. You clip on your name tag and take your position behind the cash register. All types of people wander the store throughout the day, and most simply pay for their items and are on their way. But one customer comes up to you, fuming over the price or condition of an item. You keep your cool, but they’re relentless. They’re in your face, throwing a fit. What should you do?
Retail plays big roles in many people’s lives, especially if you’ve worked in any form of retail. So many Americans work in retail, as Data USA reports that 3.22 million people work in retail. Retail workers have to deal with many different people day-to-day, which can set you up for all kinds of situations. However, we can learn from our retail stories and apply them to adulthood and day-to-day life. Here’s a few things I’ve learned while working in retail for two years:
Keeping composure is key
Strangers and customers are definitely unpredictable. When talking or engaging with someone, things can go real bad real quick. There may be yelling, name-calling, and even negative accusations. However, in these situations, you always want to give your job your all and respect customers along the way. That being said, in adult life, keeping your composure in stressful situations is necessary for life. If you have an outburst towards a customer, nothing good will come out of it.
Make the best of boredom
Boredom is a natural part of everyday life. Whether you’re home relaxing or at work, it will strike. But when working an eight-hour shift, this boredom can drag on and on-- seemingly forever. Instead of standing around and trudging through time, make the best of it. Go straighten up some shelves, get some steps in, or ask a supervisor if there’s any project you can work on. You will be a benefit to the company/store and fight the long hours. In adult life, even when at home, this tactic can also be effective. Sitting on the couch watching TV? Make that phone call you planned to for the last few days. Small activities are better than none.
Dislike doesn’t equate to disrespect
You obviously won’t always like your coworkers, however, you must always respect them. In retail, coworkers often engage in small talk with each other, and this can lead to forming new friendships and professional relationships. Though, if someone has different opinions than you, or you have negative opinions on someone, whether it be their personality or work ethic, it’s important to know how to work with them. When continuing on in life, learning to work with different personalities is an important skill set to develop.
Learning to contribute to an ultimate goal
Each individual has his own goals in life: buy a car, a house, get married, etc. However, when working for a store or company, employees have to learn to achieve one ultimate goal: bring customers into the building. This principle can follow you in life when reaching your own goals: every action or decision you make should contribute to save up for both your short and long term goals.
Working retail and being vulnerable towards customers can spur new ideas and lessons for colleagues. You not only can learn just how hard retail employees may have it at times, but you’ll also learn valuable lessons and tactics to bring with you into or through adulthood.
Aarron Sholar is an undergraduate Junior who is pursuing a major in creative writing and a minor in business writing. He plans to continue writing as a future career or pursuing graduate school after graduating from Salisbury University.